I find myself truly missing the US Criterium racing scene. Lots of go fast, turn without touching your breaks, and go faster. The previous German Cycling Cup event on the Hockenheim Formula 1 track brought some of that back and this past weekend was a bit more sweetness on the bike. . .
The SparkassenGiro in the northern German town of Bochum set the stage for pure racing madness as riders covered a 13 Km lollypop circuit through town. Two lone members of our DragonQuest Racers p/b SLACRs took the 4+ hr drive to make this happen . . . dedication to the cause at its best.
After a late start getting on the road, we opted for a early packet pickup and got an early glimpse of the START/FINISH complete with distance markings and barriers. With Elite and Pro racing on the docket, a couple of stages with live music, and a scheduled fireworks show in the evening . . . this was a day in cycling heaven. I was so happy to have fresh shaved legs. Their test would come.
Warm-ups for races in the German Cycling Cup Series are almost impossible as once you line up; you are often standing around for 45 minutes or more. This was no different. Coach Quest had the fortune or placement in BLOCK 1 of 3. I was at the back of the bus in BLOCK 3 and at the very back of that. And we were at the start 30 minutes early . . . UGH!!! Over 1000 cats lined up and I was sitting in position 999. Need to have someone show me the algebraic formula to get near the front of the bus. Fighting from the back was getting old. But I digress . . .
At the start gun I slowly began to move forward, cross the START/FINISH and hit the TURTLE TURBO . . .
Much like Hockenheim, the fist turn was NASTY! I knew this and planed accordingly . . . I decided to take the outside and avoid the bunch up. It worked! Something finally worked. Happy TURTLE DANCE on the pedals. Confidence started to swell. This was a good thing.
After a few more turns we started a slow burn up. WHAT? I thought this was a flat circuit!!! I was not mentally prepared to climb. I should have done a better study of the website. I had no idea where the rise would end. NOT GOOD!!! However, I found myself in a group and not going backwards so I stayed on the big ring (a compact) and pushed on over a stair step and to the top turn around. I’LL TAKE IT!!! There were even markers on the side of the road calling the distance to the top of the climb. I’m a guy and visual aides are KOOL ‘n da GANG. I was not only going to survive this, I was going to make it happen. Oh yeah, confidence was hitting a new high . . .
Making the turnaround at the southern most point of the course I noticed that we did not loop around the traffic circle. We cut it short with a hairpin 180 and down the climb we went on a virtually straight shot to the START/FINISH with only one 90 elbow at the 250 m marker.
After one lap I knew how I needed to ride the course and started doing my best to work up from the back of the bus . . .
Coach on the other hand was rocking the house. Being at the front of the bus has its privileges and he took liberty of them all to channel a cycling hero, the German, Jens Voigt . . .
Coach attacked off the front and led for a few hundred Ks. There was strong Kung Fu in the Peleton and they pulled him back spinning up the climb at almost 40 kph. A moment is glory is a moment in glory and it was simply awesome . . .
Working hard myself I began my leap frog effort from the back of the bus. Bridge to a group, recover, bridge to the next group, and so on. All while trying to stay out of the wind. Not easy to do. I was in NO MAN’S LAND way too much . . .
About lap 2 of 6 I latched on to a group that was moving along pretty well. On lap 3 I found myself leading the group of 20 up the climb. I looked under my arms and I had gapped them. I almost fell over. This has never happened. I have never gapped anyone on a climb . . .
Well, not wanting to waste the effort I made the turn and buried it. Well at least I thought I did. I was swarmed by the group I broke away from. I jumped behind the largest guy and hoped to put his gravity advantage to use in my favor. NOT! The cat was hitting his breaks!!! Who uses breaks in a straight downhill?
I wanted nothing of this and passed as hard as I could only to lose the Force = Mass x Acceleration (F = ma) battle. The giants (and there was more than one of them) easily pulled me back to the fold. I was not happy.
On the very next lap I once again led up the climb. As we turned my led from my little group was pulled back. We were moving along and picking up riders as we rolled. On this lap will picked up Coach on the first descent. He blew through our group and I latched on to his wheel. I could barely stay on it. He was crushing it! We picked up a few more riders and I took a few pulls as he and I led the growing mass.
This was motivating and on the next lap and just 2 to go, I decided I was going to leave and push off the front of this group. I once again gave it a try but failed. UGH again!!! I was feeling pretty froggy and perhaps a bit full of myself so at the 1K flag and my heart about to jump out of my chest, I buried it. I called out the name of one of the strongest guys in my group (our names are under our numbers) and told him to come with me . . .
|TURTLE Heart Rate vs Elevation -- Guess who won?|
We took some short, fast pulls but soon found out we lit the afterburners a bit too soon. With 300 m to go we both faded and the group that had keep me on a string for 4 laps let go and shot to the finish ahead of me . . .
In short, this was perhaps the best venue of the Series to day. An awesome course that I will do my best to dominate next year. My confidence on the bike is at an all time new high. Need to keep it that way as I will lay it all on the line during the 3-days of Rothaus RiderMan . . .
My quest for bikeROCKstar status is in reach . . .